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thWe played a lot of Monopoly and other board games when I was a kid. Cable television hadn’t been invented and there were no movie theaters, arcades, skating rinks, bowling alleys or shopping centers in our little township.

Some of these things existed nearby, but they might as well have been on the moon: Not only was there no public transit in our region, there was not much disposable income in our lives.

Hence, hours and hours of board games. I don’t think that we understood Monopoly’s underpinnings: Get rich by ruining everyone else! One thing I’m sure we didn’t get was the square that read “luxury tax.” We groaned when we landed on it because it cost us money, but the word “luxury” was not in our vocabulary.

We had everything we needed, mind you, but much of it was homegrown, homemade or handed down. Luxury was something we saw on TV, maybe, but I never figured it could apply to people like us.

As adults, we can choose luxury if we’re willing to pay for it. Which brings me to the idea suggested by a Get Rich Slowly reader: a DIY luxury tax.

 


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thA blogger I know recently hit a run of bum luck, including but not limited to car repairs, house issues, a utility rate hike and medical bills.

Depressing, right? Except that Christina, who writes the Northern Cheapskate website, decided to take a different look at the situation. Specifically, she looked at recent bank statements and her annual credit report.

The sight of paid-off debt and gradually rising balances cheered her and her husband considerably.

“Even though we felt stuck, we were moving – albeit ever so slowly – in the right direction,” she wrote in a post called “The importance of seeing your hard work pay off.”

I strongly recommend running the numbers, for two reasons:

  • To see where you need to make adjustments/get creative, and
  • To discern and celebrate any improvement, no matter how small.

Recently I ran my own numbers – and I liked what I saw.

 


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thGot questions about the post-work world? Get answers for free during an eight-hour online chat this Thursday.

It’s sponsored by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern, 20 money professionals will tackle your questions on topics such as:

 


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thYep, I’m electioneering. This year I entered the #MoneyMinute contest sponsored by GO Banking Rates, and I’d appreciate your vote.

In fact, I’d appreciate your daily vote plus your willingness to share the info with friends and social media contacts. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

The contest is being judged by reader votes vs. a panel of writing experts: Not ideal, but it’s the way this particular game is being played. That’s why I’m asking friends, relatives and readers to view my video and vote.


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th-1I can find personal finance advice just about anywhere, which is why I’ve posted articles like “6 financial lessons from ‘Godzilla’,” “Zombie consumerism” and “10 personal finance lessons from the Iditarod.”

Thus I was on the lookout at last Wednesday’s Metropolitan Opera’s HD re-broadcast of “The Merry Widow.” This is not an opera about bustiers. In fact, it’s not even an opera, but an operetta – lots of speaking roles but with enough musical numbers to keep an orchestra busy.

It’s pretty fluffy fare: The Paris embassy of the impoverished Grandy Duchy of Pontevedro plans a formal ball and invites the titular widow (played by Renee Fleming), who came into big bucks upon the death of her much-older husband on their wedding night.

Officials are terrified that she’ll marry someone outside their country and take her money with her, which could tip the country into bankruptcy. They scheme to fix her up with the ultra-eligible Count Danilo Danilovitsch. What they don’t know is that the two were once in love but his family forbade the marriage – at that time, Hanna was a country girl without a cent to her name.

Does she still love Danilo? Do you even have to ask? But things aren’t that simple.

 


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